A review of the new version of “A Star Is Born”

It seems that each generation is destined to have its own version of this classic and painful cinematic tale of one star on the decline as another rises. In the original 1937 version, the actors were Frederic March and Janet Gaynor; then, in the 1954 remake, we had James Mason and Judy Garland; and, in the 1976 version (the only other one that I’ve seen), it was Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand.

In many ways, this fourth outing is Bradley Cooper’s movie: as well as filling one of the leading roles (famous country rocker Jackson Maine) with an especially gravelly voice, this is his assured directorial debut plus he co-wrote and co-produced as well as contributing musical material. And his singing is surprisingly powerful and persuasive.

But, of course, it is equally Lady Gaga’s success: as well as taking the other leading role (undiscovered singer Ally) in her first big-screen starring performance, she contributed many of the songs. We always knew that she was a sensational singer, but she is a revelation as an actress who, for most of the film, has none of the elaborate make-up and outlandish costumes with which we associate her public persona.

This is very much a film about the music with a good number of songs performed in full (and recorded live) and it is very much a movie to be seen in a cinema because the sound is fabulous and the electric concert scenes massively enhanced by a large screen. Some of the final sequences are hard to watch as Jack’s addiction to alcohol and drugs takes its inevitable toll, but this magnificent work manages to end on an uplifting note. A sure-fired Acadamy Award winner.


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